The BBC have investigated the planning department of one of Scotland's largest councils and revealed evidence of a close personal relationship between an influential councillor and a millionaire property developer.
Labour councillor Jim Docherty (pictured above) failed to declare a long standing friendship with Labour donor James Kean, who owns large areas of land in South Lanarkshire.
Last week the Standards Commision, the body which regulates local government, found that Mr Docherty had not broken any rules after the SNP complained to them that any relationship between Mr Docherty and Mr Kean would be a conflict of interest. It said: 'No evidnece has been provided of a relationship between Councillor Docherty to the applicant [Mr Kean] or his companies in regard to the ... applications'.
The BBC has now estaablished that Mr Docherty and Mr Kean are in fact old friends. Not only old friends but close, old friends. Mr Kean is godfather to Mr Docherty's daughter. Mr Docherty is a regular visitor to Mr Kean's properties in Strachur, Loch Fyne. They are regularly seen together eating and drinking in the village pubs.
Councillor Docherty has been involved in numerous successful planning applications involving Mr Kean, but it is understood he never declared an interest when Mr Kean's applications were considered.
There are two serious issues here not just one. Why didn't the Standards Commission investigate this thoroughly? If the BBC can uncovered such details then surely a quango, which costs every taxpayer, should be efficient enough.
Secondly, why is Docherty getting away referring those with any questions to the Standards Committee report?
South Lanarkshire is a Labour controlled council. For years many have suspected Labour of 'inside working' and this is a good example. The Scottish government must act on this immediately as the Standards Commission have failed to do their work effectively.